Day Trip: Three Stops in Brooklyn

Check off these fun sights in a day.

April 29, 2016

As any city-starved suburbanite, my husband and I often pack up the kids for day trips to the city. We recently headed to Park Slope. Our itinerary: the Prospect Park Carousel, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Yes, you can do all three in one day, since the zoo and the garden are on the smaller side, and all three are huddled into a section of the park called the “Children’s Corner.” It’s brilliant.

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Plan to drive in from Westchester — the train and subway would be a bear — and park along Flatbush Avenue somewhere between the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza and the entrance to the Zoo. Start your morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (be sure to enter at the Flatbush entrance) where you’ll find the newly-expanded Discovery Garden.

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My kids — one is 6-years-old, the other is 14 months — both loved the hands-on exhibits: climbing into a giant bird nest, hopping on tree stumps, holding a magnifying glass up to all sorts of specimens, digging in a garden, and much more.

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We also wandered into the Japanese Garden, where the Cherry Blossoms and Tree Peonies are currently in bloom. If you go this May weekend, don’t miss it!

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When you’re finished studying the plants, just walk directly across Flatbush Avenue. You’ll find the Prospect Park Carousel with its 51 hand-carved horses, first erected in 1915 in Coney Island. Rides are $2, and your kids will love the old-timey music.

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Best of all, the entrance to the Prospect Park Zoo is steps away. I’m not exaggerating. It’s phenomenal. The Prospect Park Zoo is very manageable, thanks to its small size (12 acres; the Bronx Zoo is 265). Still, there’s plenty to see. We spent most of our time outdoors at the Discovery Trail, an interactive path that brings kids up close to turtles, prairie dogs, porcupines, red pandas, among other critters.

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Note: If you’re planning to buy lunch at one of these stops, the Botanical Garden’s outdoor cafe is the best option. They have items for the kids — PB + J — and fresh salads and tasty wraps for the grown-ups.

Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn and the Prospect Park Carousel is just outside the Lefferts House entrance to the Zoo. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Flatbush entrance is at 455 Flatbush Avenue. Enjoy!

Very Best Westchester Playgrounds

Why these playgrounds are worth a visit.

April 26, 2016

Editor’s note: This post ran in the past, but it was so popular we thought we’d bring it back as an oldie but goody! 

Moms collect favorite playgrounds like they collect recipes. Sometimes they share and sometimes they keep a favorite to themselves. The following playgrounds made our list because there is something special about them, whether it’s the view, a creative jungle gym or a stocked sandbox.

greenburgh nature center's discovery playground

Greenburgh Nature Center’s Discovery Playground, Scarsdale
Greenburgh Nature Center’s Playground is a nature-themed playground with three play areas for different ages and abilities. Plus, there are swings for babies, swings for big kids and some swinging benches for parents. Each jungle gym has its own “tree house.” The play equipment is beautifully designed with elements that resemble nature itself. Bonus: large rocks for climbing surround the playground. 99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale.

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Harbor Island Sprinkler Park and Playground, Mamaroneck
Nothing is better on a hot day than splashing at a sprinkler park. Harbor Island’s Sprinkler Park is located right on the beach, so let your kids play in the sand and wash off in the sprinklers. When it’s time to dry off, head over to Harbor Island’s Playground for more fun. The Harbor Island Playground has an adorable nautical theme with a lighthouse slide, pirate ship sandbox and more. The beach and sprinkler park are open until 5 pm every day until Labor Day. Parking is $5 and the beach and sprinkler fee is $5 for adults and kids ages 6 and up (children under 6 are free). Public bathrooms with showers are located on the beach. Bonus: One of our favorite places for ice pops and home made ice cream, Paleteria Fernandez, is nearby at 350 Mamaroneck Avenue. Mamaroneck Avenue and Post Road, Mamaroneck. 

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Kingsland Point Park, Sleepy Hollow
The reason to visit Kingsland Point is the water. From this green space, you have panoramic views of the Tappan Zee Bridge to the south and the mountains to the north. It’s a great place to pack a few snacks, a few books, a picnic blanket and chill. It’s a pretty simple park: Lots of grassy areas to run around, a large gazebo and pavilion, plenty of picnic tables and, of course, a playground for kids. Bonus: Climb on a giant set of teeth! (Yes, teeth!) To get to Kingsland Point, take Route 9 to Sleepy Hollow. Turn west (toward the river) onto Pierson Street and continue to Palmer Avenue. Turn left onto Palmer Avenue and go over the train tracks to Kingsland Point Park. A $4 parking fee is charged until Labor Day.

MacEachron Park

MacEachron Park, Hastings-on-Hudson
MacEachron Playground is all about the spectacular views of the Hudson. The boat-shaped climbing equipment has separate areas for younger and older children. Bring a picnic lunch and take in the views from a bench while your child plays. Bonus: If you feel like splurging on lunch, Harvest on Hudson is right next door to the park. River Street, Hastings-on-Hudson.

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Roselle Park, Pleasantville
The sandbox is the reason to visit Roselle Park, a community park in a charming little neighborhood in Pleasantville. The large 40′ x 11′ sandbox is filled with diggers and wheel loaders, bull dozers and dump trucks. Truck broke down? No worries, grab a tow truck. There are probably 30 or so trucks in the sandbox at any given moment. The playground equipment is unique too. There’s a tunnel made of tires to climb up. The rock climbing wall has letters and numbers on the foot and hand holds, fun for kids learning to ID their letters. Monkey bars are low enough for young children to try out. Bonus: Duh! The Trucks! Roselle Avenue, Pleasantville.

Sagamore Playground

Sagamore Playground, Bronxville
Sagamore Playground is nestled on a hill on a tree lined Bronxville street. It’s shady, like every playground should be, with lots of benches for grown-ups and several play areas for young kids. And every time we’ve been there, my four-year-old has met other kids. (There’s nothing more depressing than an empty playground!) Bonus: Since you’re high up on a hill there is a nice breeze. Sagamore Road (Avon Road), Bronxville. 

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Bruce Park, Greenwich
Bruce Park is located across from the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT. (We’re going to cheat a little bit and head just over the border into Connecticut.) Big kids (up to age 12) can wander in and out of faux, oversized tree trunks, balance on a rope strung between the faux trees, and spin on these really cool sit and spin-like seats near the big-kid swings. A slide built into a hillside makes a simple slide feel more adventurous. Toddlers and preschoolers have an enormous separate gated playground that features a large ship for climbing and a preschool-appropriate buccaneer rocking ride. Bonus: A kid-size xylophone! 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT.

Put an End to Picky Eating

Yes, you can! A new website by two moms shows us how.

April 25, 2016

We live in a country where most parents give into their kids’ demands for plain, bland foods, and will even resort to hiding veggies in their meals by blending them in. It’s simply the norm, and most of us accept it as our reality without putting up any sort of fight. But what if there was a way to turn your kids into more adventurous eaters without the tears (from both them and you)?

little global chefs

That’s the concept behind Little Global Chefs, a website founded by Marianne Santee and Sonia Kapadia, two moms (one from Westchester) who are passionate about fighting picky eating. On the site you’ll find healthy, kid-friendly recipes, lunchbox ideas, and tips on how to get your kids more interested in different foods by involving them in the kitchen. Of course, we had to contact Sonia and Marianne to get them to tell us more.

little global chefs lunchbox

Why do you think parents should stop sneaking veggies into their kids’ food?

First off, hiding veggies is so 2008! People like Jessica Seinfeld popularized this idea and parents flocked to it. Even though it seems clever and your kids will be none the wiser, hiding veggies is a bad idea. Making sure your kiddos get the highest level of nutrition is top of mind for most of us. But we at Little Global Chefs put the ixnay on sneaking veggies into kids’ food, and here’s why. If we’re hiding carrots in muffins or cauliflower in mac and cheese, we’re never even giving our kids a chance to know what these vegetables really taste like and are just perpetuating the picky eating behavior. How can they develop a love for carrots when they think they’ve never even tried it?  We’d rather you give your kid the real deal rather than sneaking it into their cookies. And if they only take a bite or two the first time, that’s okay. You’re teaching them about real food, and they’ll get the hang of it. 

Incorporating veggies into sauces or other things like that is an entirely different story. We load smoothies and Bolognese sauces with veggies, and our kids are completely aware of what they are eating. In fact, they’re the ones grabbing that fistful of spinach and throwing it into the blender. No hiding or sneaking! The veggies are front and center.   

How do you recommend that a parent put an end to picky eating in a 2-year-old? In a 7-year-old?

Don’t panic! It’s never too late to get your kids to eat better and be less picky. But as we know, the difference between a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old can feel like a generation. First step, no matter what their age, invite your kids into the kitchen. Have them help with meal prep, mixing, cooking and plating. The more kids are involved in the process, the more likely they are going to want to eat what they make, and therefore — yup, you guessed it — be less picky! WIN! Since we have kids of different ages, we’ll each address one of the age groups you mentioned.

Sonia: For a 2-year-old, you’re at an advantage because they are still young and can be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures. But having a 2-year-old myself, I know how fussy they can be. It’s important, especially at this age, to stand your ground and set these good habits early on. So, no, we don’t eat cookies for dinner (despite the high-pitched screaming!) and no, I am not a short-order cook. Also, these kids are not too young to be involved in cooking. Seriously. Have your 2-year-old help you make pesto by pulling the leaves off the stems of basil and throwing them into the blender. My daughter Leila, who’s actually only 20 months, has already mastered this. And the more you involve them, the more they will eat, and you’ll start building a lifetime of great eating habits.

Marianne: For a 7-year-old, let’s face it, you basically have a teenager on your hands, right? They can be super opinionated and sometimes really defiant (I have a 6-year-old who’s going on 16!). Picky eating at this age is sometimes a power struggle, so our best advice is to just not engage in the fight. Your kid doesn’t want to eat the delectable new chicken dish you made? Just leave it on the table — oftentimes they’ll come back to it a few minutes later on their own terms, casually saying, “Oh yeah, I guess I’ll eat this,” and then immediately scarfing it down (this scenario literally happened in our house the other day with a chicken teriyaki I made). Also at this age, your kids understand so much more, so you can explain a lot more. They’re also still a little (or a lot) egocentric. So explaining the importance of protein and veggies in a way that is relevant to them will go a long way. “Oh, you want to be faster on your bike? Fish is a great source of protein, which helps you build bigger muscles!” Suddenly that fish looks a lot more interesting.

What do you recommend for super busy parents who don’t have the time to prepare healthy, nutritious meals with their kids every day?

We always encourage you to cook with your kids as much as possible, but we know life is busy and we don’t expect you to cook with your kids every day. Sometimes you have the 30 minutes (and the patience!) to prepare dinner together from start to finish — awesome! Or sometimes, maybe you just give your kid a stir at the batter and send them off while you finish the rest of dinner — well done! But of course there are times when you are exhausted and it’s tough to prepare these healthy and nutritious meals with your kids, and to that we simply say, “Do your best.” 

What success looks like is different for every family. If you can prepare home-cooked meals with your kids every night, we want to meet you right now! But if you aren’t able to (like most of us), you can get ahead of the rush of the week and prepare your weekday meals on the weekend with your kids’ assistance. And if some days are totally crazed and you end up picking up a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work and preparing roasted veggies with your kids, then that is amazing, too! You get the idea. Do it when you can. The more you do it, the better off you are. But even if you get to it once every two weeks, that’s just fine, and you are on your way to ending picky eating!

We asked Marianne and Sonia to share one of their recipes with us, and they suggested a pesto that’ll go great with your kids’ pasta of choice. The adapted recipe appears below. And if you’re thinking, “My kids will never eat anything green!” here’s what the moms have to say to that.

pesto little global chefs

Basil Spinach Herb Pesto

Ingredients

4 1/2 ounces fresh basil
1 ounce fresh cilantro
Adult handful of frozen or fresh chopped spinach
Child handful of pine nuts (if your child is allergic to nuts, simply skip this)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt to taste

Instructions

1. Have your child pull the leaves off the stems of the basil and cilantro, and place them in a salad spinner. Rinse the greens at least three times, then have your child pump the spinner to their heart’s content. This is a fun kitchen tool that kids LOVE. Set the washed herbs aside.

2. If you’re using frozen spinach, place it in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a paper towel, and microwave on high for 45 to 60 seconds. (If you’re using fresh spinach, skip to step 3.) The spinach should be steaming when it comes out of the microwave. If it is still partially frozen, keep microwaving in 15 minute increments until cooked, then set aside to cool.

3. Have your child grab a handful of pine nuts to throw into the blender. Add the greens, and have your child measure out the cheese and olive oil. Add those ingredients to the blender, plus some salt to taste.

4. Allow your child to turn on the blender, and let it run until you get a paste. If it is too dry, or if you can see pieces of cheese or nuts, add a little more olive oil and run the blender again until all of the ingredients are combined and smooth. Have your child taste along the way, so they can appreciate the flavor and their efforts. Add more salt, cheese, and/or oil as needed.

5. Toss the pesto with warm, cooked pasta until combined. If you have any pesto left over, have your child spoon it into the compartments of an ice cube tray, and store it in the freezer for the next time they want pesto pasta!

For more kid-friendly recipes and cooking tips, visit www.littleglobalchefs.com and check out their blog on Huffington Post.

Friday Night at Hudson Social

When the weather is right, grab a seat and watch the trains (and boats!) whoosh by.

April 23, 2016

From our table at Hudson Social, a restaurant housed in the renovated Dobbs Ferry train station, my 6-year-old spies: A Metro North Express Train as it whizzes by. A tugboat pushing a barge down the Hudson River. A flock of geese waddling through the nearby park. There’s so much outdoor seating here — and so much for the kids to look at since the restaurant is literally track-side — that my husband and I even manage to enjoy a little adult conversation while munching on hummus and pita.

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The food is good, but I have to admit, it’s fairly forgettable. (We tend to order salads or burgers. See my full review in the NYT here.)

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But we don’t come for the menu — we come for the vibe. Hudson Social is such a chill spot to hang with the kids on a beautiful weekend night. You can go for drinks — or dinner, or both; there’s a kids menu that has things like PB&J and sliders on it. And no one cares if you linger.

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Sometimes they have outdoor acoustic shows. Either way, we pack the crayons and paper, claim one of the picnic tables where we can see the river, and on a nice night, hang until the kids make it clear they’ve had enough.

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Then we go for a walk along the water, where there’s a really great playground a few steps away.

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Hudson Social, 11 Station Plaza, Dobbs Ferry; 914-478-3634

Sell Your Used Kids’ Stuff

Once Upon a Child in Scarsdale will buy your clothes, toys and gear on the spot!

April 20, 2016

So you know how you’re always wishing someone would just give you money for all the great-condition kids’ clothes, toys, furniture and gear that you have? Well, someone will — at Once Upon a Child in Scarsdale. The new shop, officially opened earlier this month, buys and sells used kids’ things, and the process is simple: You turn in your items, they appraise it all on the spot, and they fork over cash. I handed in four bags of clothes (about 70 items) and received $148.

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Now, they don’t take everything. For clothes, they want brand-name items purchased within the past five years. Any clothes that show stains, fading or excessive wear are out. Toys, equipment and furniture must include all the parts and be in clean and good working condition. Basically: Don’t try to sell anything that you wouldn’t pay money to buy yourself. (You can always donate items that don’t make the cut.)

once upon a child buy a resell used clothes

Here’s what they won’t take: Car seats, bedding, helmets, accessories (socks, underwear, hats, gloves, etc.), anything that doesn’t meet current safety standards (they will check on this for you). Everything else is fair game, but you can double check your items here.

Sometimes the appraisal takes longer than usual. When I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, there were three moms ahead of me with bags of stuff, so they asked me to drop off my things and said they’ll call me later. Each item has to be entered into their computerized system, which evaluates things based on brand name, age and condition. You can ask them how each specific item is valued and change your mind about selling if you want to.

And of course you could always shop at Once Upon a Child, too. I walked out with a lovely gently used Lands’ End bathing suit for my daughter — $8.

Once Upon a Child, 455 Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale; 914-874-5535

50 Things to Do in Westchester This Spring

How to make the most of this special season.

April 19, 2016

Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in the past, but we’ve updated all the event dates for Spring 2016! Enjoy the lovely weather!

Peonies, magnolias, daffodils — I love ’em too. But spring isn’t just about the flowers. It’s about brilliant colors, shifting temperatures, and living in anticipation of the summer season. But don’t look forward to summer too much. First, here are 50 ways to spend your spring days.

1. Walk through hundreds of fragrant peonies at Rockefeller State Park in Pleasantville when they bloom this May.

2. Taste the homemade honey vanilla lavender ice cream at The Blue Pig in Croton-on-Hudson. Sounds strange, tastes like heaven.

3. It’s grilling season. Why not grill up your own pizza?

4. Go see the sea lions being fed at the Bronx Zoo. You can see them swallow down fish at 11am and 3pm daily.

5. Take your pooch and your kids for a hike. Here is a list of dog friendly trails.

6. Pack a few of your child’s favorite books, a blanket, and a snack. It’s time for story hour at the park.

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7. After playing at Mamaroneck’s Harbor Island Park Playground, stop for Mexican popsicles at Paleteria Fernandez.

8. Plan a special day trip to Sesame Place — it’s less than 2 hours drive from the County Center.

9. Or if you’ve been there a million times already, check out one of these other amusement parks within two hours of Westchester.

10. Pick up a pair of spring chinos in the brightest color you can find.

11. Lay out a blanket in the backyard for a picnic, starring these adorable sandwich shapes.

12. Head over to Wobble Cafe in Ossining for brunch. There’s a gourmet chef in the kitchen, and an awesome kids’ play area to hang out in while you wait for your eggs and toast.

13. Hunt for magnolia trees in bloom at the New York Botanical Garden — they’re gorgeous. Or, head to the Children’s Adventure Garden for “spring fun” projects in the Discovery Center (spot frogs and turtles or pot a plant).

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14. Visit the baby animals and hike the 7 miles of trails at Muscoot Farm. Spring is one of our favorite seasons on the farm.

15. Pop down to the city and explore the Highline — it’s stroller friendly (as long as you don’t go on weekends)!

16. Plan a girls night on the deck at Bartaco in Port Chester. Margaritas, chips and salsa, tacos, warm night. Doesn’t. Get. Better.

17. Go for a ride on the bug carousel at the Bronx Zoo.

18. Take your digger-loving boys to Roselle Park in Pleasantville — there are so many trucks, ‘dozers and diggers to play with, your son will go nuts. Mine did.

19. Go fly a kite at the Hudson River Museum’s Kite Festival on Saturday, May 14.

20. Send a rubber ducky down the creek (and help raise money for a good cause) on Saturday, April 20, when Tarrytown puts on its annual Rubber Ducky Derby.

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21. Bike the Bronx River Parkway every Sunday in May. They shut down the road to cars — you coast.

22. Treat yourself to the most delicious chocolate chip cookie in the county. Can you guess which Westchester town has it?

23. Grab your raincoat and wellies, and head to Rockefeller State Park to hunt for frogs and turtles around the pond. Your kids will thank me for this one.

24. Walk the grounds of Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center in Yorktown Heights and learn why this sustainable farm continues to grow.

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25. Take your little ones to watch the trains from the deck of Scarsdale’s Starbucks.

26. Pack a picnic, play on the playground, and climb the steps at Kensico Dam.

27. On a rainy day, watch some 4-D movies at Legoland.

28. Bring the kids to casual brunch on the patio at the Bedford Post Inn’s Barn Cafe. Breakfast served with a side of charm.

29. Take a stroll across Walkway Over the Hudson, an elevated pedestrian bridge with a gorgeous view of the river. You can also bike across the bridge.

fruit infused water

30. Mix up a refreshing batch of fruit-infused water. It’s so easy and good for you!

31. Buy a 99 cent bottle of bubbles and head to the park or playground of your choice. Then watch your kids (and lots of others) try to catch them.

32. Lay down a blanket on the lawn of the backyard, stare at the sky and daydream. Teach your kids to the do the same.

33. Spend the morning walking the spectacular riverfront grounds at Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown. There’s a craft fair there the weekend of April 29.

34. Go shopping on Greenwich Avenue. Reward your little one with a Nutella crepe at open-air Meli Melo. Ok, get yourself one, too.

35. Start a new tradition: Pajama walks! Put the kids in their jammies, then take a walk after dinner.

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36. Get an outdoor movie projector for an unforgettable BBQ that keeps going after the sun sets.

37. Watch the rush of spring rain cascading down Croton Falls.

38. Don’t put yourself through the trauma of trying on swimsuits under fluorescent lighting. Instead, order several bathing suits online, try them on in your own home and send back any that you don’t like. Easy.

39. Sample the beer at Captain Lawrence Brewery outside on their modest outdoor patio.

40. Dine alfresco at Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen in Tarrytown, then grab some gelato from Lighthouse Ice Cream Kompany (LICK) next door.

41. Sample one of Dave DiBari’s yum wood-fired pizzas. He’ll be pulling his DoughNation Food Truck up to various farmers markets throughout the season.

42. Start running. Now that nights are getting warmer, how easy is it to lace up your sneaks and hit the pavement? Even 10 minutes is better than nothing.

43. Watch the riverfront’s seasonal transformation aboard a Hudson River Cruise — with the kids or without.

larchmont manor park

44. Find a new paved trail for a stroller walk: Either Larchmont’s Manor Park or Riverwalk in Croton.

45. Make a playdate with a mom friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Spring is all about renewal.

46. Call Black Dog Coffee Roasters to see if they brewed their ginger peach iced tea that day. If so, ride to the Pleasantville or Croton location for a refreshing sip.

47. Plan a road trip. Summer’s just around the corner!

48. Host a Friday night potluck with neighbors. Everyone’s gotta have something to bring. Plus, it’s an excuse to get together.

49. Start composting with the kids. It’s not hard!

50. Lastly, buy a bouquet of your favorite flowers. Tulips, lilies, irises, whatever, and put them somewhere surprising, like your dresser. It’s the small stuff, right?

Sponsored Post: Get Ready to Move for Mental Health on Sunday, May 1

A family-friendly event to support mental health services in our community.

April 18, 2016

Calling all walkers, runners, crawlers and baby strollers! The Mental Health Association of Westchester is hosting their 12th annual MHA on the Move 5K Run/Walk and 1-Mile Kids’ Race on Sunday, May 1, 2016 and all are welcome – even Fido. The fun, family-friendly event in FDR State Park in Yorktown Heights also features raffles, entertainment, refreshments and – for the first time ever – a guided meditation.

MHA on the move Wee Westchester

Not only is MHA on the Move a great opportunity to show your kids the value of giving back to their community and those in need, it’s the perfect chance to teach them the importance of physical activity! The fun day kicks off with check-in at 8 am, followed by the 1 mile race for children ages 4 to 10. This special kids’ race is complete with its own warm-up, medals for the top three girls and boys and ribbons for every runner. 

New studies suggest that meditation followed by physical activity lessens symptoms of depression, so get ready to warm up your mind AND body! The 5K run/walk for adults and families will be preceded by a guided meditation, led by Stephanie Filardi, cofounder of Bronxville Wellness Sanctuary.

MHA Logo Infomation

Held during National Mental Health Awareness Month, MHA on the move is dedicated to raising both awareness for mental health issues and funds for The Mental Health Association of Westchester’s vital services. And this year, the event is all about the conversation: The more people that talk about mental health, the easier is it for others to talk about it, too. Join the conversation and register today at www.mharunwalk.org.

Sponsored Post: Ridge Hill’s Spring Soirée is Sunday, May 1

Celebrate the season with fun-filled family events at our favorite shopping mecca!

April 15, 2016

Celebrate the season at Ridge Hill‘s Spring Soirée on Sunday, May 1, from 12pm to 3pm!

Spring Soirée Poster
Everyone will have a blast with art and crafts for the whole family, including painting sessions from Muse Paint BarDJ Scratch spin art, and apron decorating with Whole Foods Market. There will also be  pinch pots from Yonkers Peace Pottery Studio (while supplies last!) and basil seed planting.

Children’s author, Ross Burach, will host a reading of his book, There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, and there will be more storytelling, a virtual scavenger hunt, music, giveaways and more.

Stylist Jennifer Tannenbaum will help get your spring wardrobe ready with fashion tips featuring the latest arrivals from Ridge Hill’s fashion retailers, PLUS make-up tutorials from Sephora.

Mark your calendars for May 1 to celebrate the season with all your favorites at Ridge Hill!

Ridge Hill, 1 Ridge Hill Blvd, Yonkers

School of Rock Goes to Camp

Join the band for the week.

April 13, 2016

After hearing “Man in the Mirror” on the radio the other day, my son, Harper, expressed amazement that Michael Jackson started singing at such a young age. “How do I do that?” he asked, which made my husband and me chuckle. So I was interested when I heard about a new camp at Mike Risko Music School, a music and performance school in Ossining founded in 1995. This week-long “learn how to rock” summer camp is for school-age children, and best of all, it’s scheduled for late-August during the gap week after the end of camp and the beginning of school.

Rock-Band-Camp-at-Mike-Risko-Music-School2

Musicians will teach kids ages 6 to 17 what it’s like to be in a band and how to write songs, and the week will culminate in a performance. Kids will dress in rocker clothes and wait to perform in a green room — back stage passes included. Sounds like a hoot. There’s also a musical theater program and a half-day arts camp. Check out the options below.

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Rock Band Camp
Dates: 
Monday, August 22, through Friday, August 26, 9am to 3pm
For ages 6 to 17
There’s no better way to spend a week this summer than learning to be a rock star and being a part of a real band. Your child will learn from real musicians, what it’s like to be in a rock band – from choosing a name to writing songs, they will be involved in the whole process. A showcase for family and friends will close out the week, with backstage passes, a green room for the bands, and cool rock star outfits to help the campers celebrate their success and rock-out.

Musical Theatre Camp
Dates: 
Monday, August 22, through Friday, August 26, 9am to 3pm
For ages 6 and up
Star in a musical this summer! This one-week intensive workshop will enable all kids to shine as they learn to sing, act and dance using scenes and songs from their favorite shows. Vocal instruction, acting and dance instruction will be provided as part of this workshop. Their week will end with a showcase for family and friends.

Risko Half-Day Arts Camp
Dates: Monday, July 11, through Friday, July 15, 10am to 1pm, and August 15 to 19, 10am to 1pm
For ages 6 and up
Campers will experience music, drama and art. They will participate in voice class, drums, guitar, ukulele, musical arts and crafts, theater improv and musical theater. At the end of the week, parents will be able to watch a small showcase and enjoy an art show of their projects from the week. Afternoon classes will be available for kids who want to stay longer.

COST:
Full-day camps, $575 per week
Half-day camps, $250 per week

To register, call 914-762-8757 or visit www.mikeriskomusicschool.com.

Mike Risko Music School, 144 Croton Avenue, Ossining

Backyard Fun, No Swing Set Required

7 ways to enjoy the simple pleasures of your backyard.

April 12, 2016

Editor’s note: This post ran in the past, but it was so popular we thought we’d bring it back as an oldie but goody!

Our yard isn’t big enough for a swing set, but my daughters’ friends always have a blast in our backyard. It doesn’t take much to make a kid happy as long as they are outside. Give them a tree and it’s a forest, a sandbox is a bakery and a hose means your grass gets watered while they stay cool. Here are 7 ways to keep your kids happy, no swing set required.

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Outdoor Kitchen
What’s on the menu? Mud pies, of course! And sand pies, weed salads, flower soup and sand ice cream sundaes! You can move a play kitchen outside or just improvise with a bucket and pots, pans and spoons. If you have a sandbox, all the better. Confession: I was a little unsure if I wanted the hassle of a sandbox, but we got one last summer and now I’m a believer. (Just hose off the sandy feet before going inside and the sand stays outside!) (Photo via Garden Mama.)

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Obstacle Course
Set up a temporary obstacle course or build one that will last through the seasons. Some ideas are: stepping stones or tree stumps (rainbow!), tires, a tunnel, ladder (lying horizontal on the ground), cones, hula hoops, balance beam, table (to crawl under) and more. Feeling adventurous? Add a slip ‘n slide! (Photo via Rusta Upp.)

fairygarden

Create a Fairy World or Dino Land
My girls are obsessed with fairies. They take a few small fairy dolls outside and build a tiny world from flowers, plants, and a few items we picked up at a craft store like colored stones and a miniature fence. We use a corner of our yard that has flowers and stones, but you could also use a flower pot or a spot next to some flowers. Boys can create terrain for their dinosaurs or cars and trucks.

Fort from sheets

Build a Fort
Kids love kid-sized spaces and they’ll make one out of just about anything. Let them bring some old sheets outside and help them hang them up over chairs or bushes. Bring a box or a few boxes outside. You could also buy an outdoor play house or a play tent. (Photo via House and Universe.)

Get Wet
Fill up a baby pool with water and let the games begin! Add water toys, water balloons, big kids, even a kid-sized chair! Turn on the sprinkler and join in the fun. (I run through the sprinklers with the kids every summer and it feels amazing.)

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Make Art
Sidewalks are the best canvases. Use spray bottles to blend chalk colors and the chalk becomes finger paint. When you’re all done, get out the hose and clean up!

Hunt for Bugs and Worms
Go on a bug or worm hunt. Let the kids explore under rocks, around flowers and plants and dig in the dirt. Then, build a bug farm and study them. Use a plastic container like the kind you buy strawberries in as the farm. Add dirt, plants, pebbles and bugs. After the fun is over, let the bugs go.

Westchester’s Best Playgrounds: Hyatt Field in Scarsdale

We're on the hunt for unique and interesting playgrounds throughout Westchester County.

April 11, 2016

It’s playground weather again, and my daughter’s new favorite one is Hyatt Field in Scarsdale, built just this past winter. While we’d always loved the wide-open design of this playground, even before its recent renovation, the exciting new equipment that has replaced the old stuff makes this place a must-visit.

hyatt field park westchester playground

The pièce de résistance of Hyatt Field is the zip-line. A dangling seat is strung on a long line of cable stretching across the playground, and kids can take turns pulling each other to the top of the line and whizzing down at a rapid speed. A spring mechanism at the end of the cable ensures a soft landing. The biggest problem is that there’s only one of this thing! All the kids wanted a turn and there was a lot of waiting around.

hyatt field park scarsdale playground zipline

Also of note here is the huge netted climbing structure, which features, among all the tethered ropes, a dangling seat near the center of the dome – in case you get tired while scaling this contraption!

hyatt field playground scarsdale westchester playground

For the younger kids, there are a couple of more traditional, age-appropriate climbing structures. Although with the zip-line and that netted dome available, the baby jungle gyms couldn’t hold the attention of my 4-year-old son, who wanted to join his sister in trying out the flashier equipment.

The basketball court from the old Hyatt Field remains intact after the renovation, and is still a great surface upon which to scoot or bike, so don’t forget to bring your kids’ vehicles of choice. And if you’re planning on staying for lunch, definitely pack a picnic blanket – there’s plenty of grass and open field here.

For those coming for the first time, park your car on Potter Road, a residential street just off Boulevard. There are several entrances on Potter leading directly onto the playground.

Hyatt Field, Boulevard and Potter Road, Scarsdale

Yoga Lessons for the Little Ones at Home

Topsy Turvy Yogi is a great activity for group play dates!

April 8, 2016

Young kids take so naturally to yoga, as I’ve seen from the lessons my son has had at preschool. It involves everything that that age group loves: exercise, concentration, imagination. So when the founders of a new Westchester-based kids’ yoga program contacted us to offer a demo class, I was happy to check it out.

topsy turvy yogi westchester

Topsy Turvy Yogi offers preschool yoga classes in your home, and will supply all the equipment. The lessons, which involve storytelling and imaginative play, are led by Jessica Brown and Diana Scharf, two friends, Westchester moms and certified preschool yoga instructors. They’re trained to work with kids ages 18 months to 5 years specifically, and currently teach at two preschools in lower Westchester.

topsy turvy yogi preschool yoga class

My son and three of his buddies, ages 4 and 5, had the best time. Jessica and Diana offer just the right combination of nurturing warmth and high energy, using relatable characters like Spider-Man and Rapunzel to draw the kids into poses. They also set up an obstacle course and had the ingenious idea of bringing “presents” to the lesson – wrapped boxes containing their teaching tools. The kids were so eager to see what was in those boxes that they hung onto their every word.

For younger children (18 months to 3 years), Topsy Turvy Yogi offers a toddler-and-me class that incorporates more parent participation. I couldn’t help thinking what a great thing this would’ve been for us three years ago, before my son was in preschool. At the time, we’d participated in a group play date that rotated among different homes every week, and this would’ve been the perfect activity for those get-togethers.

topsy turvy yogi yoga classes at home

Class offerings are based on age groups, from the youngest “Buddha Babies” to the older “Master Yogis,” and range from $25 a child for a group lesson (minimum four in a group) to $60 for a private, one-on-one lesson (semi-privates are also offered). If you do decide to book an at-home lesson, mention Wee Westchester and receive a 10% discount!

Topsy Turvy Yogi is running a free toddler yoga class at the Temple Israel Center Nursery School in White Plains on Wednesday, April 13, at 9:30 am. They also do yoga birthday parties and are teaching a class this summer at Central Park Dance in Scarsdale. Email them at info@topsyturvyyogi.com for more details, or check out their website, www.topsyturvyyogi.com.

How to Beat Spring Allergies

April 7, 2016

This post was brought to you by Scarsdale Medical Group.  The good news is it’s spring, the bad news is it’s allergy season. We asked Scarsdale Medical Group’s allergist, Dr. Jennifer Camacho, your questions about allergies. Regardless of whether you or someone in your family suffers, Dr. Camacho’s expertise is super informative and may give you the knowledge […]

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Date Night: Rye’s Rosemary and Vine

April 6, 2016

There is a feast of small plates in front of us. Babaganoush sprinkled with rosy-red pomegranate seeds. A roasted red pepper hummus with warm homemade pita. The crostini of the day was good enough to warrant a second order: A gaggle of savory button mushrooms piled atop fresh ricotta on thick sourdough toast. If you’re […]

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Westchester Trails: Croton Gorge Waterfall

April 5, 2016
Thumbnail image for Westchester Trails: Croton Gorge Waterfall

Editor’s note: This post ran in the past, but it was so popular we thought we’d bring it back as an oldie but goody! Westchester may not be known for its hiking trails, but it should be. There are dozens of fabulous hiking spots in the region, and many are relatively easy to do with […]

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New Mo Willems Exhibit at the New-York Historical Society

April 4, 2016

A new Mo Willems exhibit just opened at the New-York Historical Society on the Upper West Side, and because my kids are such fans of the prolific author’s books, we had to check it out. The first thing we noticed upon entering the museum was the line out the door to take pictures with costumed […]

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